If you travel a lot, you've probably had the same problem as I have - sometimes it's just damn near impossible to get a good wifi signal and there are times when a smart phone simply isn't enough to work with. You need to work on something important on your computer and send it off. That or you just want to pointlessly browse the net while you're your sitting on the train.
Either way, it's not always easy to get connected.
And so we get the USB broadband stick. It's, at its core, a pretty good idea. Mobile broadband using cellphone towers - the exact same you get on your smart phone. If you have reception, you'll have good internet signal.
I bought the TMobile Web and walk USb stick when I got my new laptop some time back, and somehow, as if they employ psychics or something, they rang me up (having been a customer for several years) and asked me if I needed something like this. I did, and they sent it off for me (I was somewhat tempted by their valued customer 3-month discount).
And I have to say I was impressed for a while. Sure the speed was nothing compared to my home broadband, and the quality of images on sites were purposefully decreased in quality to reduce usage (I had a 3gb limit at the time) and for some reason I still haven't gotten an answer to I couldn't upload anything bigger than 64kb, but whatever. It worked and I managed to do what I wanted to on the go - download documents and pointlessly browse the net. Well, when it didn't cut off.
But then the stick started to get loose, where the main body connects to the USB plug, and eventually it was so that I had to support it with another USB and some folder paper to get any kind of connection. I had it sent back and asked for another, only to have the same thing happen there, too.
So what can I really say about this product? I mean, it does what it says, sure, but the quality of internet is by no means anything to be amazed by. It's good backup in case you really can't find any wifi (and the upload limits are a real pain sometimes), and that is if it doesn't break for no reason.
In my line of work I tend to move around a lot, hopping from place to place, sometimes having to stay out a few nights at a time, so using the internet, which is quite an important part of my work, was a little, shall we say tedious at times.
Anyway, a few weeks ago I was getting a little fed up trying to find wireless hotspots or finding a library which was not filled to over flowing with snotty faced little kids who have never heard of the word respect, so I decided to bite the bullet and invest in one of them mobile broadband USB sticks.
After a quick investigation online, surrounded by those snotty faced kids again in a library, I discovered that the best coverage over all would probably be with T-mobile, so I went and bought the USB stick as soon as I left the library.
The particular model I bought was the 'mobile broadband usb stick ', which came in a lovely dark pink box with four clear windows on the front to show the contents.
I don't like to get myself tied into a contract so I went for the pay as you go version, topping up when and if I needed to. Giving me the options of buying per day, per week or even per month, which I thought was a good idea as you are not forced to pay for what you don't need or want.
Once I had sliced the security tabs, three in total, two at the top and one covering the bottom, I slid out the moulded plastic tray to reveal the exact contents, which were...
* The USB stick itself, with retractable USB connector.
* Three spare front covers, all very nice looking, if you like that sort of thing.
* A little transparent wallet
* A SIM card
* A top up card
* A CD ROM which contains a quick start manual and software to install the stick
* And several bits of information, including how to use the stick and the legal stuff.
** SYSTEM REQUIRMENTS...
* 400MHz 32 (86) processor or higher
* MS windows 2000 (SP4), XP (SP2), Vista and Mac OS X 10.4 or 10.5
* At least 50 MB of free hard drive space
* At least 128MB RAM
* USB interface 2.0
** IT FEATURES...
GPRS, EDGE, 3G and is HSDPA ready
And offers speeds up to 3.6 Mbps
** THE STICK ITSELF...
The stick is quite a good size, being approximately 60 x 30 x 15mm, about the same size as an old fashioned pen drive.
It comes with 3 detachable front covers, each to suit your mood I suppose, there's the basic black, then there's a red on with pretty flower outlines etched on it, then there's what I can only describe as psychedelic one and finally there's a grey marble effect one. I know this information may not be relevant to some but it may be to others as I feel some people may want the option of being able to change their covers, just like they can with a mobile phone.
Anyway, the cover changing is as easy as sliding one cover off and replacing it with the one you want, clicking it into place.
Also, inside the stick, in the same section where you place the SIM card, there is a space for a micro-sd card, which could be useful I suppose.
** SETTING IT UP...
This is described in the leaflet 'quick start' and also in the booklet entitled 'Welcome to mobile broadband', although the latter is about as useful as an ashtray on a motorbike.
You simply unclip the SIM card from its main card, open up the back of the USB stick and slide the SIM card into the slot provided, there is a little diagram to show you which way it is supposed to go.
Then you slide the cover back into place and you're ready start surfing the web whilst on the move. A great idea in principle.
Once you plug in the 'Stick' your PC should automatically start a set up process, if this doesn't happen then either try a different USB port or try installing the CD that is in the package.
In a few minutes, and after following the simple on screen instructions, you should be ready to get on line via this wonderful invention.
** THE T-MOBILE VIEWING SCREEN...
When you open the program to begin to go online a new window opens for you to see exactly what is happening regarding your T-mobile stick.
Along the top there is a few options, such as...
* File... which allows you to save/retrieve certain files on your PC
* Operation...which sends you to the stats, text or phonebook
* Tools... which lets you set your own preferences
* Help... giving you the chance to update the device or even contact T-mobile.
Just below these options there are more, such as...
* Connect... clicking this connects your PC to your T-Mobile stick.
* Internet... clicking this connects you to the internet
* Statistics... shows you what you're stick is doing, this is easy to understand and will help you keep an eye on the 3GB per month package you have bought.
On the right and the main part of the page, there is a real time download/upload graph.
On the left there is a 'data transfer' rate, showing you exactly how much data has been uploaded or downloaded from the PC, please note this information is only from the PC and not from the stick, so if you use this stick on more than one pc you will not get a true reading.
The bottom left of the page gives you a total amount of your data volume since your set date.
* Text... allows you to send a text to other people, (although you need credit to do this)
* Phonebook... allows you to store phone numbers of your contacts.
** CONNECTING TO THE INTERNET
So now you're ready to get online, well just simply open the viewing screen and click on 'connect' to link your PC and the Stick together and once this is done you then click 'Internet'. Then, hopefully, your normal browser should open and your ready to go...
** NOW FOR MY OPINION...
I would like to say that I was impressed with the way my experience with mobile broadband has been but I would not be telling the whole truth, in fact I'd be lying through my clenched teeth.
It has been one of the most trying experiences I have had to deal with and to be honest I think I would rather go back to the library and put up with those snotty faced little imps.
Setting it up was a breeze, installing the software and initialising the broadband stick could not have been any easier, but I later found that this was lulling me into a false sense of security as I then connected to the internet.
The actual connection was more or less instantaneous, from the moment I clicked on the connect button to actually getting on line, but after a few minutes of 'surfing' the irritating troubles began as I was soon disconnected from the web, and I was not a happy chappie at all as I was in the middle of some work.
I was left with a 'local' connection but no connection to the internet, which is not right at all is it.
I waited for a few minutes in the hope that it would reconnect, as I had set the device to do so, but I was waiting more in hope than anything.
It was then a matter of totally disconnecting and the re-connecting, bringing me back on line but again it was only for a few minutes.
This happened time after time and each time I had to disconnect and reconnect to get back online, Is this the future of mobile broadband? I think not.
I tried searching through the viewing screen to see if some settings could be changed to improve this infuriating disconnection but nothing helped at all.
I even contacted T-Mobile themselves in the hope that they could help, they suggested several things to try, including what they call ' re-booting' the stick, which just means taking the SIM card out and re-installing it, but even this did nothing to improve the matter. I even un-installed and re-installed the software in the hope of some success, but a few minutes of browsing and I was back to the 'local connection only' stage once again.
I am actually awaiting another response off the guys at T-mobile to see if they can help in this matter, who, may I add, have been very helpful indeed and have made many suggestions in order to help me solve this issue, so I can not fault there customer service.
I know your going to say it is down to the fact that I was in a bad area, and I don't mean Moss Side or Toxteth, ( no offence to those living in Moss Side or Toxteth), but I have tried using the stick in several different places, including at home where the T-Mobile reception is classed as 'excellent', but the thing still manages to drop connection after a few minutes.
To be honest I can't really grumble about the online experience, well, for the short periods I could browse the internet, the speed is good enough to do what most surfers want to do, check e-mails, do a little research and small things like that, so I can't complain about that. It is just a shame that it keeps disconnecting from the web every few minutes or so.
Could it be the actual stick I ask myself, although I am informed by T-mobile that this is probably not the case, well, as I have tried everything else, apart from sitting up a tree next to a T-mobile mast, I have no doubt that the stick could be at fault and, next time I am in the town a bought it from, I will be taking it back for a full refund.
Another thing I found about this device was that it did seem to wobble somewhat when slotted into the USB on your PC, even though it's a smallish item and weighs next to nothing. So I would be a little paranoid about it maybe falling out of position or in fact breaking the USB connecter itself.
Then, on closer inspection of the device, I found that the USB connector on it was a little on the wobbly side and maybe that is the reason for it disconnecting? Who knows?
The price of the Stick I bought was quite reasonable indeed, being a penny short of £25.00, and for this I got 30 days free browsing, which put the Stick at a tenner really.( if only I could get it to stay connected).
The offer came with 3GB per month browsing, although the old FUP was emphasised a lot, but I have never heard of T-Mobile actually penalising anyone for miss-use of the FUP.
Would I recommend this T-mobile broadband stick? Well if my annoying experience is a one off and it is my stick that is the problem then yes I would recommend it as when I was online, albeit briefly, I found no faults at all, giving me a nice, smooth online experience at a good speed.
But if my experience is more wide spread then I would want my money back and a written apology from T-Mobile for selling what I could only describe as a useless dongle with detachable flashy covers.
A bit of an update regarding this broadband stick
Well, it's more about the T-mobile customer services rather than the 'dongle' itself.
I have just been contacted by a very friendly lady from customer services who listened to my trouble, (about the 'dongle' not my life), and tried to help sort out the 'dropping' problems, but sadly we failed. Then she passed me onto a chap in the technical department who spent quite some time discussing the problems and giving some sound advice as to what may be causing the problems. He then asked me to keep a not of any loss of connection over the next few days when he would then call me back for any further help.
What I am saying is that I have found that the customer service department are very helpful indeed and it seems that they are bending over backwards to try and solve this problem.
So I have to give T-mobile customer services a good 10 out of 10 for the help they have given me so far
But this review is not about the customer services is it? so i can't add anymore stars.
A few months ago I was comparing prices on mobile broadband, and from both what I had heard about the different companies and the prices that were being charged, I came across a very "reasoable" offer from T-mobile. The application process was not that great and the staff were not very helpful at first, but ever since I have been with them, I cannot really complain too much. I have not really had to contact their customer service department and I usually get good signal from my home. At times the broadband can be slow, and one of the main reasons for joining T-mobile was that if I go over my monthly allowance, I do not get charged anything extra, but instead my usage becomes limited. They run by a "fair usage policy". I consider the prices to be fairly affordable in comparison with what you get. I have read many negative reviews about T-mobile and the braodband which they supply, but do not feel the same way. I did at first when first applied, but not anymore now that I have been a customer of theirs for several months.
They also often have deals going on, so it may be worthwhile also looking out for these. The web n' Walk is a very good idea and runs at a high speed. Installation is also very easy with their dongles.
13 months ago i purchased the web n walk stick thinking it would be great for the family to use any where they like,which is certainly the case,no quarms about that.I myself mainly use the internet for multiplayer gaming, ie playing poker,golf,pool as well as other games.Any one purchasing one of these dongles should not be mis-led in to thinking that they are going to be as reliable and as fast as fibre optic broadband,because they are certainly not.The download and upload speeds advertised don't even reach 3.6Mbps,i know this from the fact that i did numerous broadband speed checks and the results barely reach 1Mbps of download and upload speed,resulting in slow streaming and constant gliching.My dongle was actually suppose to reach speeds of 7.2Mbps,so you can see my gripe with t.mobile.Even trying to stream videos on youtube is very slow indeed,constantly stopping and starting.The usage isn't much good either,you will be very suprised at how long 3Gb will last you (not very long if your streaming) So to sum this up,my advice to anyone purchasing a t.mobile USB stick should be aware of what they are going to use it for.For general browsing and e.maling it works fine,but for streaming videos or game play should find an alternative broadband.Oh and then theres the small matter of bad weather,which can effect the performance as well,so just be aware of these things when purchasing.
The mobile aspect of this device is incredibly useful and the monthly price is quite reasonable. I was very worried about te limit at first but even after downloading large quantities of music my 3 gb limit seems to be enough. I am however very unimpressed with the way in which it likes to sign me off randomly and without warning when it feels like it. It is thoroughly unimpressive and at times can be very slow. I have found that it gets slower with time, the longer i have it. I don't know whether this is to do with the amount of memory on my pc that i now use being larger due to the music i have downloaded or whether to do with something else, but it is worrying as i've only had it for 5 months of an 18 month contract. Nevertheless, being a student it is very useful for me to be able to take my internet around the country with me and for this i am grateful.
not to be one for gadgets i got a laptop and wanted to use the broadband where ever i was so i went for t mobile usb mobile broadband stick, it took me 10 days to finally get the thing to work, and it when i did i was not impressed with the usb stick at all. Its speed is not great and the connection does seem to be lost when out and about in cafes and bars. I have taken it on a contract and now im stuck with it and not happy, they said it was unlimited broadband but when i went over the fair usage allowance i was contacted to say that the connection speed would be reduced as i went over the allowance, so now it is virtually not working dont get one of these its just not worth the money, i wish i read reviews on this before taking out this contract.